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Same Level Fall Prevention Series Part II: Three Floor Cleaning Mistakes That are Working Against You

- March 19, 2018 by Brian Piñon, CSP (View all posts by Brian)

In my last blog, Floor Cleaning & Same Level Fall Risk, I highlight the impact floor cleaning procedures can have on the amount of friction your floor provides. Now that we know cleaning methods (and not just frequency) are worth our attention, let’s review three common cleaning mistakes that may be negatively impacting your fall prevention efforts.

1. Using the Wrong Cleaner – Choosing the right cleaner can have a drastic impact on the efficiency of your cleaning process. As we saw in my last blog, one study found that 7 out of 10 surveyed restaurants were using neutral cleaners, rather than an alkaline degreaser, to remove grease and oils from their kitchens. Here are the four basic types of cleaning agents and their typical uses.

  • Alkaline Cleaners (degreasers) – These are higher pH cleaners that are efficient at removing fats, oils and greases by converting them to soaps. If not adequately rinsed away from the floor after application, alkaline cleaners will leave a soapy residue that becomes highly slippery when wetted by a spill.
  • Acidic Cleaners – Break down mineral deposits like hard water stains.
  • Neutral Cleaners – Typical “all-purpose” cleaners. They are best suited for lightly soiled or dusty surfaces.
  • Enzymatic Cleaners – Use various bacteria and enzymes to target and break down contaminants. Each product will be specific to a particular contaminant. There are enzyme based cleaners for proteins, fats and starches.

2. Ignoring Manufacturer Guidelines – Manufacturers provide usage guidelines for their products to optimize their efficiency. Ignoring them can lead to wasted product at best and reduced floor friction at worst. Common mistakes involve water temperature and dilution ratio. Most workers understandably presume that their floor cleaner should be mixed with warm or hot water. This is not the case for enzymatic cleaners, which contain living bacteria and enzymes that are neutralized by anything but cool or room temperature water. A 2011 study (Verma, Chang, Courtney; 2011) found that 62% of restaurant workers responsible for using enzymatic cleaners reported doing so with hot or warm water. Many workers also either don’t take the time to measure out the recommended cleaning agent dilution or purposefully deviate from the recommended ratio. This is often driven by the mistaken belief that they can adequately clean a floor and also save solution by skimping, or boost efficiency by over-concentrating.

 3. Single-Step Mopping – While this method does remove some contaminants, it also spreads them out all over the floor surface, leaving a contaminant/cleaner residue that can make the floor substantially more slippery when wet. It also tends to provide little time for the cleaner to act upon the contaminants. When mopping is the chosen cleaning method, it is recommended that a two-step process is utilized. This involves liberally spreading the cleaning solution over a section of flooring, allowing time for the cleaning agent to break down the contaminants, and then utilizing a wrung out mop to remove the solution. Using a combination of power scrubbers, squeegees, deck brushes, hoses, spray applicators and wet shop vacs are also effective tools. The goal is to ensure the cleaner is given adequate reaction time with the contaminants and then properly removed from the flooring surface.